Grantham University Week 5 Insanity Based Defense Discussion Write a one to two page paper exploring the use of the defense “insanity.” Please use one (or

Grantham University Week 5 Insanity Based Defense Discussion Write a one to two page paper exploring the use of the defense “insanity.” Please use one (or more) of the following examples for you analysis, and be sure to use appropriate APA formatting and citations:

John Hinkley

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Lorena Bobbitt

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Hinkley attempted to assassinate President Regan in 1981, he was found NOT guilty by
reason of insanity, and while he remains confined to a mental institution, he has over the
years been allowed temporary release from the institution. This attempted assassination
led to the passage of the Brady Law on gun control and the Insanity Defense Reform Act
? Responsibility/Capacity are seen as potential excuses for the commission of acts
that would ordinarily be criminal, as opposed to defenses to criminal liability.
? Defenses are not excuses or justification for the criminal actions, but excuses of
? In the case of adults, in most states a defense of insanity requires the defendant to
prove insanity by a preponderance of evidence
? Preponderance of Evidence – the greater weight of evidence, though not necessarily
the amount needed to remove every reasonable doubt. It is proof sufficient to incline
a reasonable person toward one side of an issue rather than the other.
? In a few states the prosecution must prove the presence of capacity, or sanity,
usually beyond a reasonable doubt
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt – that no other logical explanation can be derived from
the facts except that the defendant committed the crime, thereby overcoming the
presumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty.
? Under the civil law, an infant (child) is a person who has not yet attained the age of
majority, whether that age is 18, 19, 20 or 21 as determined by the law of each
? Age of Criminal Responsibility – Children were often executed. In 1814, for example,
in one day, five children were sentenced to death. They were aged between 8 and 14.
? U.S. Courts have held that the younger the child the stronger the evidence must be to
evidence mental capacity
? To determine the child lacked mental capacity:
The nature of the crime
Child’s age/maturity
Whether the child evidenced a desire for secrecy
Whether the child told the victim not to tell
Prior conduct and
Whether the child had made an acknowledgment that the behavior was wrong and
could lead to detention/punishment.
? Watch this vide by Professor Robert M. Worley
from Texas A &M University Central Texas on the
Juvenile Justice System:

? Defense is seldom used by
? Only 2% of defendants plea
? Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity
(NGRI) is not an easy way out.
? Note that even infamous serial
killer Jeffrey Dahmer who pled
NGRI was found criminally
liable, despite the extreme
actions he took against victims
(drugging/killing young boys,
trying to turn them into “sex
? 1992 case of Foucha v. Louisiana, the defendants was found
NGRI. After 4 years in a state mental institution a doctor at the
hospital stated that Foucha was no longer mentally ill, but
declined to certify that the defendant was a danger to himself or
others. Under Louisiana law at that time, Fouchan had the
burden of proving that he was no longer dangerous in order to
earn his release from the hospital.
? The US Supreme Court held that Louisiana law violated due
process “the State MUST establish insanity and dangerousness
by clear and convincing evidence in order to confine an insane
convict beyond his criminal sentence, when the basis for his
original confinement no longer exists.”
? The State must prove dangerousness, not the defendant arguing
he is no longer a danger.
Test to Determine Insanity
Cognitive capacity
Moral incapacity
Volitional incapacity
Product of mental illness
M’Naughten Rule – (its name comes from the
trial of a notorious English assassin in the early
1800s), a defendant is legally insane if he/she
cannot distinguish between right and wrong in
regard to the crime with which he/she is charged.
If the judge or the jury finds that the accused
could not tell the difference, then there could not
be criminal intent. Considering modern
psychiatry and psychology, tests for lack of
capacity to “think straight” (with lots of highpriced expert testimony) are used in most states
either under the American Law Institute’s Model
Penal Code or the “Durham Rule.
? Substantial Capacity test – a test to determine criminal
responsibility based on whether the defendant could
“distinguish between right and wrong or 2. conform his or her
conduct to the requirements of law.
? NOTE this concept in the Model Penal Code Section 4.01:
A person is NOT responsible for criminal conduct if at the
time of such conduct as a result of mental disease or defect
he lacks substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality
(wrongfulness) of his conduct or to conform his conduct to
the requirement of law.
As used in the Article the terms mental disease or defects
do NOT include an abnormality manifested only by
repeated criminal or otherwise antisocial behavior.
Andrea Yates
? Review the Facts:
? Watch:
? Guilty but Mentally Ill – defendant may be found guilty but
mentally ill id all the following are found beyond a reasonable
1.) a defendant is guilty of the offense
2.) defendant was mentally ill at time offense was committed
3.) defendant was not legally insane at rime offense was
Note: example of this on page 117 n your text book: The
Thomas Vanda murders
? Battered Woman Syndrome
? Television Intoxication
? Premenstrual Syndrome
? Cultural Defenses
? Voluntary Use of
? Compulsive gambling? U.S.
v. Lynch the defendant stole
$7.5 million and
unsuccessfully used
compulsive gambling in
attempt to be found not
guilty on his insanity plea.
? Diminished Capacity defense – a defense for criminal
responsibility based on the fact that because of mental or
emotional conditions, the defendant did not possess the
required mens rea for conviction of the crime charged.
? U.S. v. Fishman – the defense of “diminished capacity” is
simply a label that identifies evidence introduced by the
defendant to support a claim that he did not commit the
crime charged because he did not possess the requisite mens
rea. A diminished capacity defense varies from legal insanity
defense in several respects. Whereas following a successful
legal insanity defense the court retains control over the
defendant and may order involuntary commitment, a
successful diminished capacity defense results in a complete
? Competency to Stand Trial – Defendants must have the
ability to cooperate with their attorneys and the ability to
understand the charges and proceedings against them.
? U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held that it is a violation
of due process to try to convict a mentally incompetent
person. Most states place the burden on the party
challenging the presumption of competency, the standard of
proof on defendants to prove incompetency is that of the
preponderance of the evidence.
? If they do not understand the charges and proceedings
against them and cannot cooperate with their defense
lawyer, they would be determined incompetent at the time.
? U.S. v. Carter – defendant had “bamboozled the U.S. atty.
Doctors later determined that the defendant was without
mental disorder.
? Thompson v. Crawford – defendant fooled psychiatrist and
was later discovered. Florida court vacated the judgment of
acquittal and permitted the state of Florida to proceed
again with criminal charges!
? U.S. v. Prince – the defendant exposed himself and began to
urinate in the courtroom. Minutes later he was brought
back into the courtroom and while trial judge was warning
him as to his conduct, defendant began moaning and
screaming. Five marshals were needed to take him from the
courtroom. Federal Court of Appeals denied his
incompetency claim and continued with the trial.
? The rules for making
corporations liable for actions
taken by officers, directors or
employees. Corporations can
be vicariously criminally
liable for actions of their
agents (employees) if the
offense is minor, a duty is
specifically assigned to a
corporation, a statute
explicitly creates vicarious
criminal liability, or the
person committing the crime
is acting in the interest of the
corporation and is a high
managerial agent.

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